CTC Math is an online, subscription-based math program for kindergarten through high school created and taught by Australian math teacher Patrick Murray. It is intended to serve as your core math program, although it could also be used to supplement other math courses.
For each course, lessons are divided into a number of “streams” or broad areas of math then further divided into topics within each stream. Then each topic will have a number of lessons. For example, kindergarten level has four "streams", and the first one (Number, Patterns and Algebra) has eight topics, Number I, Number II, Patterns, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Fractions, and Money. There are a number of lessons for each of these topics. This amounts to a lot of content at each grade level.
At the topic level, there are optional diagnostic tests that might be used either as pre-tests or post-tests for all courses up through Basic Math and Pre-Algebra (a single course). As pre-tests, you can find out if your child already knows a topic and can skip to the next grade level in that particular stream. You can also use either test as a final exam when a student has completed the lessons within that topic. There are three forms of diagnostic tests: short, standard, or comprehensive. Both tests draw from the same bank of questions, but comprehensive tests present about twice as many questions as do the standard tests. Diagnostic tests will tell the parent or teacher what a student knows or needs to learn, but the program doesn't automatically prescribe a grade level or course based on the tests.
The Basic Math and Pre-Algebra course introduces a “topic test” at the end of some (but not all) topical sections. This is a test that is to be printed and completed offline. Answers are then entered onto an online answer form for scoring. While these appear frequently in this course, they appear sporadically in high school level courses. Calculus has none, and Algebra II and Trigonometry appear to each have only one, yet Pre-Calculus and Geometry have a number of them.
On the menu, directly under the diagnostic tests are the lessons for that topic. When there are no diagnostic tests at upper levels, the menu just lists the lessons. Simply click on the first lesson and start.
Each lesson begins with a brief tutorial that runs from four to nine minutes. Tutorials use colorful graphics and animations with Patrick Murray’s voice-over explanation. The consistency of hearing just one voice makes this program feel more personal and predictable than some other programs where the style of presentation and the voice-overs frequently change. Murray’s Australian accent is very understandable. The program uses U.S. currency in the U.S. Version, but I expect that the program for those in at least Great Britain and Australia uses those countries' currencies.
Lessons teach in small increments with plenty of practice on each topic. The program allows students to go back and repeat lessons or jump ahead to a different topic if that is helpful.
You can print out a one-page summary of each video tutorial for handy reference or review if you wish. Unfortunately, there is only one tutorial for each topic, so if a student doesn't grasp a concept as presented in that tutorial, they don't have another option. Parents will need to watch for this. If a student seems to be missing a particular concept, they might need to use something besides CTC Math to teach that particular concept. CTC has added weekly review sets of problems which should help you spot weak areas right away.
After the tutorial, students are given a series of interactive questions. Students type their answers into the computer or use the mouse to select an answer. The program immediately scores their work, and it also maintains student records. You can print a page showing the problems with their step-by-step solutions, but you cannot print worksheets of unsolved problems.
Sometimes lessons require students to type in words, although not for young learners. A speaker icon can be used to hear questions read aloud, which is especially helpful for non-readers or struggling readers. This makes it possible for even young children to work independently.
If students don't answer enough problems correctly, they can re-watch the tutorial if necessary and then tackle a different problem set. The program has a huge database and will present one or more additional sets of problems that are different from the original set. So students can practice a concept as much as they need. Weekly review sets help students maintain skills with previously-taught material.
CTC has added a Question Bank Wizard for grades 5, 6, 7 and 8. (The QBW should be ready for the lower grades before the end of 2019.) The QBW lets you create either online interactive sets of questions or printable worksheets that you can tailor to specific topics. You can select a level of difficulty for the questions, and you can set the QBW to produce a particular number of questions or to run for a specified length of time (for interactive online sets). If you are creating a printable worksheet, you can click a button to have the program add space for working out problems. The QBW allows you to add as much targeted practice or review as you want.
CTC Math doesn't waste a lot of time with pointless animations and “praise.” For each topic area, the program shows a reward ribbon symbol that varies by level of accomplishment: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. The program also provides certificates of accomplishment for each section that parents can print out if they wish. Parents can access detailed reports showing topics studied, time spent, and quiz and test scores. Reports and certificates can also be automatically emailed to the parent or teacher as well.
The scope and sequence in earlier versions of the program was a little different than most other programs, but CTC has adjusted topics so that they are now presented at levels similar to others. Keep in mind that you can always advance a child to a higher grade level or have them move through lessons more quickly. The Question Bank Wizard now provides an additional way to differentiate the level of difficulty to suit each student.
The early courses are labeled for kindergarten through sixth grade. These are followed by the Basic Math and Pre-Algebra course. Immediately following the Basic Math and Pre-Algebra course are Elementary Measurement and Elementary Geometry. The latter two courses cover geometry topics that are usually taught before high school level geometry, so students should complete the group of all three courses before tackling high school courses. There should be plenty of time to do so.
At high school level, you might want to have students complete the Trigonometry and Pre-Calculus courses in addition to the core courses if you want them to have more rigorous coverage. Note that CTC Math courses go all the way through Calculus.
Students at all levels need to be familiar with paper-and-pencil math. Older students will need to do some paper-and-pencil work to solve complex problems in CTC Math. However, younger students also need to be given opportunities for paper-and-pencil problem solving since CTC Math at younger levels rarely makes their use necessary. The Question Bank Wizard solves this problem if you use it to create printable worksheets. Those with children in grades one through four who are still waiting for the QBW to be available can use a supplemental workbook, handwritten problems, or computer-generated worksheets at little or no cost.
I concentrated on the courses for the early grades for most of this review, so those are the ones with which I am most familiar. I know that some users with older students complained that there wasn't enough material, so CTC Math has added an additional 194 lessons, the majority of them at high school level.
CTC Math offers a number of subscription plans: monthly, six-month, or twelve-month. They also offer membership for a single student or a family plan for two or more students. The family plan for twelve-months is clearly the best deal, and especially so if you have more than two children! Each student is given an individual login, and the program tracks their progress. The student has access to all grade levels for the subscription period. This is especially valuable since it is difficult to identify just one grade level that covers everything a particular child needs to learn, and your child might complete more than one grade level in a year.
In my opinion, CTC Math is an excellent option for math. It is easy to navigate, and it is efficient in both the tutorials and the presentation of problems to solve. The fact that students can review and practice as needed is a real plus. Students can watch tutorials or jump in and try to complete the problems without watching the tutorial if they think they already know the concept.